Barry Goldwater

Goldwater in 1962, by Trikosko, Marion S.

Birth Name: Barry Morris Goldwater

Date of Birth: January 2, 1909

Place of Birth: Phoenix, Arizona Territory

Date of Death: May 29, 1998

Place of Death: Paradise Valley, Arizona, U.S.

*father – Ashkenazi Jewish
*mother – English, small amount of Welsh

Barry Goldwater was an American politician, businessperson, and major general. A Republican, he served as a U.S. Senator from Arizona, from January 3, 1953 to January 3, 1965, and again, from January 3, 1969 to January 3, 1987.

He was the Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in 1964. He was also a candidate for the Republican Party’s 1960 presidential nomination.

Barry was the son of Hattie Josephine (Williams) and Baron M. Goldwater, whose family founded the leading upscale Goldwater’s Department Store in Phoenix. He was married to Margaret “Peggy” Johnson, until her death, and to Susan Shaffer Wechsler, until his death. He had four children with Margaret, including businessperson and Republican Party politician Barry Goldwater, Jr., who was a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California, from April 29, 1969 to January 3, 1983.

Barry’s father was Jewish, of Polish Jewish and Russian Jewish descent. Barry’s mother was born in Illinois, and was of English, and a small amount of Welsh, ancestry; she was Christian. Barry was raised an Episcopalian, though he sometimes referred to himself as Jewish. His third wife Susan, married from 1992 to 1998, was a convert to Judaism, for reasons unrelated to her marriage to Barry.

Barry was one of two people of Jewish heritage to have been nominated for President of the United States by a major political party. John Kerry, nominated by the Democratic Party in 2004, was the other (Kerry’s paternal grandparents were born Jewish, though Kerry’s father and Kerry himself were raised Catholic). Joe Lieberman, who was Jewish, was nominated for Vice President of the United States by the Democratic Party in 2000.

Barry’s paternal grandfather was named Michel/Mike/Michael Goldwasser (the son of Hirsch/Hersch Goldwasser and Scheindel-Chawe/Fravda). Michel was born in Konin, Poznanskiego, Poland, to a Jewish family. Hirsch was the son of Naftali Hersch Goldwasser and Esther Scheindel.

Barry’s paternal grandmother was named Sarah Nathan (the daughter of Moses Nathan and Hannah). Sarah was born in London, England, to Russian Jewish parents.

Barry’s maternal grandfather was Robert Royal Williams (the son of John Asbury Williams and Ann Alfrey). Robert was born in Illinois. John was the son of John Williams and Mildred Amelia Gill. Ann was the daughter of John Alfrey and Barbara Ann Green.

Barry’s maternal grandmother was Laura Josephine Smith (the daughter of William Coats/Coates Smith and Sarah Jane Leming/Liming). Laura was born in Ohio. William was the son of Daniel Smith and Hannah Coates/Coate. Sarah was the daughter of Ephraim Joel Liming/Leming and Phoebe Foster.

Barry’s paternal great-grandparents, Hirsch/Hersch Goldwasser and Scheindel-Chawe/Fravda, were also the paternal great-great-great-great-grandparents of actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse. Thus, Barry and Christopher are second cousins, three times removed.

Barry was the first person of Jewish heritage to win a caucus and/or primary for a major party’s Presidential nomination. He won 7 contests in 1964, the year he was nominated. Four other people of Jewish heritage have won a major party’s presidential caucus and/or primary. They are:
*John Kerry (2004, the year he was nominated; Democratic; won 51 contests)
*Wesley Clark (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination; won 1 state, Oklahoma; Clark was born to a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother, and is a practicing Catholic)
*Bernie Sanders (who sought the Democratic nomination in 2016 and 2020; in 2016, he won 23 contests; in 2020, he won 9 contests)
*Michael Bloomberg (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination; won 1 territory, American Samoa)

Of the five, Bernie Sanders and Michael Bloomberg are Jewish by religion, and Sanders is the first person of Jewish religion to have won a caucus and/or primary for a major American political party’s Presidential nomination (the 2016 New Hampshire primary).

Other people of significant Jewish heritage who have mounted or are mounting plausible or semi-plausible campaigns for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States are:
*Milton Shapp (who sought the 1976 Democratic nomination)
*Larry Agran (who sought the 1992 Democratic nomination)
*Arlen Specter (who sought the 1996 Republican nomination)
*Joe Lieberman (who sought the 2004 Democratic nomination)
*John H. Cox (who sought the 2008 Republican nomination)
*Fred Karger (who sought the 2012 Republican nomination)
*Marianne Williamson (who is seeking the 2024 Democratic nomination; and was previously a candidate for 2020’s)
*Michael Bennet (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Tom Steyer (who sought the 2020 Democratic nomination)
*Dean Phillips (who sought the 2024 Democratic nomination)

Shapp, Agran, Specter, Lieberman, Karger, Williamson, and Phillips were/are all Jewish by religion. Bennet and Steyer were raised in mixed-faith households, Bennet with a Jewish mother and Steyer with a Jewish father. Shapp was the first person of Jewish religion to mount a prominent campaign for a major party’s nomination for President of the United States.

Kirsten Gillibrand, a Catholic with a Jewish great-grandfather, also sought the 2020 Democratic nomination.

Sources: Genealogies of Barry Goldwater –

Genealogy of Barry Goldwater (focusing on his father’s side) –

Barry Goldwater on the 1920 U.S. Census –

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